Dispatch

Empowering refugee adolescents to fulfil their potential

4 May 2016

Despite being refugees, youth and adolescents have a right to access basic information and services on Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health (ASRH) to avoid early pregnancies, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
This was reiterated by Jozef Maerien, the UNFPA representative and other officials in Mahama refugee camp during the launch of ASRH services this month. The adolescent and reproductive health services will be offered within the Youth Friendly Centers managed by Save the Children and American Refugee Committee for clinical procedures
                  

Photo: Girls football club in Mahama refugee camp

Prior to the launch, the youth held football competitions amongst girls’ football teams, awareness campaign on teenage pregnancy, HIV/AIDS prevention and also an opportunity for young people to test for HIV/AIDS. The gatherings were an opportunity to share sexual and reproductive health information and help youth access basic knowledge on ASRH
 

“Children miss information on sexual reproductive health and risk facing serious consequences in such a harsh living environment due to lack of facilities. We want them to understand that it is their right and encourage them to visit the Youth Friendly Centers to get information and services. We truly appreciate our partners for supporting us in this activity,” said, Tina Yu, Save the Children Country Director.

Photo: L-R: Ms. Tina Yu, Save the Children Country Director, Jozef Maerien, UNFPA Representative, Ngonga Aristique, MIDMAR Camp Manager and Paul Kenya, UNHCR field officer launching ASRH services to be provided in the camp

Traditionally, parents are reluctant to talk to their children about sex and most fathers think  it’s a role for mothers which is not the case. The wellbeing of the children requires joint efforts. Adolescents urged parents to discuss the topic so as to avoid the consequences.

Jackie, aged 19, revealed that most girls in the camp become pregnant due to poverty, idleness, and lack of information.
“We lack basic knowledge on sexual reproductive health yet we are the ones who face the consequences of pregnancy and early child bearing. It is therefore good that I and my peers acquire this knowledge,” she said.
Jackie urged young people especially fellow girls to be on the lookout for people who may deceive them and lure them into early sexual intercourse. She adviced them to avoid idleness which most peers complain to be leading them to sexuality
It is planned that at the end of the program, three well-functioning Youth Friendly services will be established in Mahama refugee camp.